03 December 2014, Lagos — NAUTILUS, the British trade union, said it had written to UK Shipping Minister, John Hayes, expressing concern after pirates demanding a ransom recently held one of its members captive in Nigeria.
This is among a string of violations against its members by rebel groups.
The organisation raised concerns over the potential for proposed new counter-terrorism laws to restrict or even outlaw the payment of ransoms to pirates holding seafarers hostage.
General Secretary, Mark Dickinson, pointed out that a significant number of Nautilus members had been held hostage in recent years.
“As recently as October, one was held captive for a fortnight in Nigeria before a ransom was paid for his release, and that of other shipmates who were taken from his vessel,” he said.
This is not the first time that Nautilus has expressed concerns about this subject, Dickinson added.
“It is a complex and contentious issue and it should be emphasised that, in most cases, negotiations on ransom payments are made between pirates and the shipping company affected, and not necessarily the countries of origin of the hostages or the flag state of the ship. We continue to believe that any attempt to make the payment of ransoms illegal — or even to delay the payments — would jeopardise the safety of seafarers held captive and that pirates would have little reluctance to carry through threats to kill and/or cause environmental damage if they are not paid”
Nautilus represents shipmasters, officers and cadets serving on merchant ships, as well as other maritime workers such as harbourmasters and marine pilots.
*Okoro Chiedu – Cajnews